This is a blog about depression. If you are easily offended or take offence to my very sarcastic humour, please do not read any further. Mental illness is not a joke; it is not something to point fun at and I fully understand that. BUT…when the going gets tough, sarcasm and humour is my defence and so I will be parading it around all over this blog.
If you need help, please get it. Whilst I hope this has a happy ending, I don’t know yet and given I’ve not been able to fix myself, I really don’t want others using this as a ‘How To Be Happy for Beginners v2.0’
Sunday means a lie in again. I had the best intentions of going to breakfast but I am tired. ‘Normal’ people have a lie in when they are tired and so will I. I get up at 1100 and don’t bother getting dressed until 1200. This is all in a relaxing, ‘I need this way’, not in a ‘let’s hide from the world’ way. Good job, Patient C, for not giving yourself a hard time.
My sister arrives at 1215. I’d been looking forward to this visit during the week but now the anxiety is kicking in. She so badly wants me to be better that I am finding her quite smothering. She’s trying to do what’s best for me and I appreciate that. Friends are offering to do the same thing but I don’t view them as smothering. It’s complex stuff. We talk, I tell her about the OCD diagnosis. She says she’s seen it in me for years. Thanks for pointing it out then! We talk about the roles the family, and us, have created. She knows I’m the responsible one and that yes, she does live up to being the flaky one as it’s easier on her. It suits her to be known as being late so now, she turns up late as an automatic response. It suits her that mum trusts me with the important paperwork. We agree we need to share it a bit more though, I can’t be responsible for everyone anymore. This is progress. I’ve talked, she’s listened, we have a plan. Maybe I can do this communicating malarkey.
The main reason for her visit, other than see me obviously, is the roast. I’ve been bigging it up and visitors only have to pay £4.95 for the privilege. I am a tad worried that she’ll be disappointed like Friend ML was last week. This doesn’t last long, she’s loving it! Yes, WIN! Someone thinks this is awesome too. I am considering befriending some patients just so I can come back next Sunday as a visitor and still have the roast. Before we sit down, I spot Patient S. My sister needs time with me and only me so I won’t go sit with him but I know he is leaving today and I want to say bye. He’s stressed. He doesn’t know if he’ll cope back home. Home isn’t even in this country so day care or after care isn’t possible. I give him my contact details and a very big hug. I have my fingers crossed for you, I am hoping you are surviving.
My sister leaves and I can finally attend the Assertiveness and Boundaries group. I have high hopes for this as setting boundaries or asserting my needs are both things I struggle a lot with. Therapist S is in charge and I am not sure how I feel about her. She annoyed me last time I tried to come to the group but I understood why. Let’s see if my opinion will change. We go round with a check in, as usual. As the ever diligent student, I am there with my notebook open ready to record everything that I need to do right and change. After I’ve finished my check in, Therapist S points out my notebook. Apparently, this isn’t allowed in group sessions. Urm what? I’ve been here nearly 4 weeks and this trusted notebook has been to every single session with me. Even yoga! Apparently, it’s a hospital rule. Shit, I’ve been breaking a rule for nearly 4 whole weeks, shit shit shit. I explain, I really struggle to communicate my feelings. I use the notebook to write them down and that the very act of writing it down often gives me the courage to finally say them aloud. I also explain I didn’t know this rule. I’ve frozen, I am not moving a muscle. Then, something amazing happens. One by one, all the patients start chipping in to support me. Lots of them have never met me before. I am not the only one who has never heard that rule, none of them had heard it either. Not only that but most of them normally have a notebook too. Oh, my goodness, thank you so much everyone. This means a lot, more than you’ll ever know. I am so scared I might be breaking a rule that I don’t write anything down. My head is going at 100 mph and I wish I could record some of it. I’m too scared though. There are some useful things coming up in the session and I know I am going to forget them all. Bugger, I really wanted to come to this session too.
With 30 minutes to spare, Therapist S draws the attention to those who have not participated. I.e. Moi! I say I don’t want to talk. Patient Who-knows-what-letter asks if I don’t want to talk at all or if I think I can a bit later. Then, I word vomit. It rises up my windpipe and out my mouth before I know it’s was coming. I say I’m really embarrassed about the notebook. Then, and let’s face it, you probably all knew this was coming, yes, it’s time for the snotty tears. The word vomit doesn’t appear to be stopping. I tell everyone that how terribly alone I felt with all these feelings. How scared I was that I was the only one who thought and reacted like this. Everyone is being so amazing. Thank you all so much. I feel part of something, accepted by all these people. I never normally feel accepted. They’ve seen the ugliest of me (my crying is really that bad) and they are here sticking up for me. In fact, they are turning on Therapist S! They want her to feedback the inconsistent messages we get.
Writing this, on Monday, after the event, I’ve realised I’ve been holding my breath whilst typing. It still conjures up a strong emotion over 24 hours after the event. I am having to remind myself to breath. Pretty fundamental stuff!
Before moving on, I was able to remember and jot down a couple of points:
- Boundaries are often set by others and they exist because of trust – if we want to be in control of our boundaries, we have to trust ourselves
- I’ve placed my father on a pedal stool – no matter how much he has hurt me, I keep going back for more, I still want him to be the father he’ll never be to me
- Therapy helps our brain develop – I am actually getting more intelligent by coming to therapy! With the amount we’ve had here, I should be a genius by now – The theory is that therapy helps us to develop areas of the brain that lacked development
After the session, I do something different. Instead of scuttling off back to questionable carpet room, I stop and talk to a couple of the patients. They are all being very supportive of me and I am so grateful. Patient D2 wants to give me a hug, I let her. Thank you, I needed that squeeze. I say bye and head back to the ward. That group will be very special to me now. I also now know I don’t like Therapist S.
Nurse S comes to do my obs and risk assessment. She also stops to talk about the last group. She is normally a nurse on the EDU (eating disorder unit). I didn’t know this until after our conversation. She really helps me calm down and she didn’t know about the notebook rule so I shouldn’t worry. We talk about my eating disorder and how I thought, when I got better from that, my depression would be gone too. I didn’t consider my eating disorder was a coping mechanism for my depression and that I could still get depressed without an eating disorder. My eating disorder first surfaced at 11 years old and continued until I was 28 years old. That’s a long time. I had various interventions but critically, it was left to grow and develop for far too long when it first started. Nurse S finds this interesting as she sees it all too often. The earlier the intervention, the better the statistics of a full recovery. We talk about my overeating and how it feels a bit too much to tackle right now. That’s ok apparently, one small step at a time. Right now, not killing myself is more important. Oh, Nurse S, I want to hug you. Thank you.
Supper time and it’s frittata and salad followed by carrot cake. I get my wish of not bumping into anyone whilst eating – I’m still a bit embarrassed about my snotty tears earlier
Back in questionable carpet room and my evening starts to go a bit wrong. I start overeating. A lot… I have a whole bag of tangfastic and the last sticky bun. Bugger. I know this is because I feel stressed. Stressed about going home, stressed about when I am going home, stressed about how to get all my things home, stressed my cats won’t like me anymore, stressed about when I’m going back to work STRESSED STRESSED STRESSED. Ok Patient C, you can end this day better than it started. You can do this. You are going to get in the shower right now and wash that greasy hair of yours. You are going to put on clean pjs. You are going to try and sleep earlier.
So, out I go to ask for the ward hairdryer, in I get to the hot shower. Step by step, I wash my hair. I’ve done it. Now, dry your hair, that’s it. Well done. Ok, I can’t manage my teeth but there has been progress. Clean pjs on, somewhat tighter than when I first arrived, but, for now, that’s ok too. And so, to sleep I go, on a rocky but positive path for the start of the new week.